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other issues

Does Canada’s Pest Control Product Act protect farm workers?

17 February, 2015

It has been said that the measure of a society is how it treats its most vulnerable members.  So when I recently testified the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health about Canada’s Pest Control Products Act (PCPA), I chose to focus my submissions on what we’ve learned from our past work with farm workers about how the PCPA does and does not protect farm workers.  I told the Committee that if the PCPA were appropriately implemented, it would go a long way to protecting farm workers, and the environment.  However, to date, it has not lived up to this potential – with the result that farm workers – as those most exposed to pesticides – continue to be subject to significant health risks.

It has been said that the measure of a society is how it treats its most vulnerable members.  So when I recently testified the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health about Canada’s Pest Control Products Act (PCPA), I chose to focus my submissions on what we’ve learned from our past work with farm workers about how the PCPA does and does not protect farm workers.  Click on the player to hear my testimony (or download the .mp3 or

Financial Clout v. Right to Speak Out

13 February, 2015

“The right to speak is more precious than gold”. Members of the Wilderness Committee displayed these words proudly on the steps of the Supreme Court of BC as they prepared for a two-week hearing on a defamation claim by Taseko Mines Ltd. It only took one week working as a law student with West Coast Environmental Law to become attuned to one of the most significant issues related to the environmental law field in British Columbia, and to society at large: the conflict between large corporations engaged in resource extraction, and the voice of communities who are affected by or concerned about resource extraction activities.

“The right to speak is more precious than gold”. Members of the Wilderness Committee displayed these words proudly on the steps of the Supreme Court of BC as they prepared for a two-week hearing on a defamation claim by Taseko Mines Ltd.

Is this glass half full, and what should it cost?

11 February, 2015

Last Thursday (February 5th) the BC government unveiled its new pricing framework for water use in BC. The new pricing for BC water was undertaken after extensive public consultations, in which, the government reports, “a consistent message from British Columbians was that water is undervalued,” but the pricing regime for BC water still clocks in as among the lowest in the country. We take a look at what some businesses might expect to pay going forward. 

Is this glass half full, and what should it cost?

Kinder Morgan v. Freedom of Speech

21 January, 2015

To what extent does our society afford us a right to freedom of expression? This is a question Mr. Alan Dutton must be quizzically trying to answer as he finds himself tied up in a lawsuit with Kinder Morgan. The oil company claims $5.6 million in damages against him, arguably for no further reason than attending a protest on public land, encouraging others to do the same, and maintaining a website as a means of communication about the issue.

To what extent does our society afford us a right to freedom of expression?

Federal Court: Canada Acted Unconstitutionally in Ramming Through 2012 Environmental Law Changes

Monday, December 22, 2014

VANCOUVER, COAST SALISH TERRITORIES– The Federal Court of Canada has ruled that Canada failed to uphold its constitutional duties to the Mikisew Cree First Nation when it rammed through sweeping changes to federal environmental laws in 2012. West Coast Environmental Law congratulates the Mikisew Cree on their successful legal challenge to the federal government’s 2012 changes to environmental protection and assessment laws.

Top Environmental Law Alerts of 2014

19 December, 2014

It’s been a busy year – with West Coast sounding the alarm on some major changes to BC’s laws and analyzing and commenting on other legal issues related to the future of our communities and planet.  Thanks to the magic of Google Analytics we’re able to give you our 10 most-read posts of 2014

It’s been a busy year – with West Coast sounding the alarm on some major changes to BC’s laws and analyzing and commenting on other legal issues related to the future of our communities and planet.  Thanks to the magic of Google Analytics we’re able to give you our 10 most-read posts of 2014.

Lost in translation on Burnaby Mountain

9 December, 2014

It’s a bit over twenty years since I was arrested, along with 300 other people who stood on the Kennedy Lake Road on August 9th, 1993, in Clayoquot Sound.  So the recent protests on Burnaby Mountain, with over 120 people arrested for protesting Kinder Morgan’s pipeline exploration activities in a regional park, brought back memories.  Although Kinder Morgan decided not to proceed with contempt proceedings  against the Burnaby protesters (after admitting that it provided incorrect GPS co-ordinates when it initially sought the court order they were said to have violated) , I think the lessons I learned about how the courts view and deal with protests will be relevant if we see future civil disobedience against the Enbridge or Kinder Morgan pipelines.

It’s a bit over twenty years since I was arrested, along with 300 other people who stood on the Kennedy Lake Road on August 9th, 1993, in Clayoquot Sound.  So the recent protests on Burnaby Mountain, with over 120 people arrested for protesting Kinder Morgan’s pipeline exploration activities in a regional park, brought back memories.  Although Kinder Morgan decided not to proceed with contempt proceedings  against the Burnaby protesters (after admitting that it provided incorrect GPS co-ordinates when it initially sought the court order they were said to have viol

Happy 40th birthday, West Coast Environmental Law

17 November, 2014

This year, West Coast Environmental Law is proud to celebrate our 40th anniversary and the many accomplishments the organization has achieved over the past four decades.

WCEL turns 40

This year, West Coast Environmental Law is proud to celebrate our 40th anniversary and the many accomplishments the organization has achieved over the past four decades.

Leading Haida Lawyer and Gitanyow Hereditary Chief Joint Winners of 2014 Andrew Thompson Award

14 November, 2014

The winners of the 2014 Andrew Thompson award were announced at our 40th anniversary celebration last week. The award was established in 2002 by West Coast Environmental Law and the Thompson family, as a legacy to the late Dr. Andrew Thompson, one of BC’s foremost environmental lawyers.  The award is given periodically to individuals who have demonstrated a significant lifetime contribution to environmental protection and sustainability in British Columbia through the law.  The 2014 award recognized individuals who have made an exceptional contribution to the fields of environmental and Aboriginal law, or to the revitalization, recognition and/or enforcement of Indigenous environmental law.

The winners of the 2014 Andrew Thompson award were announced at our 40th anniversary celebration last week. 

Hereditary Chief, Lawyer jointly awarded Andrew Thompson Award

Friday, November 7, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Vancouver, Coast Salish Territory.  West Coast Environmental Law congratulates the winners of the 2014 Andrew Thompson Award: Glen Williams/Malii, Gitanyow Hereditary Chief, and Terri-Lynn Williams-Davidson/gid7ahl-gudsllaay, lawyer and member of the Haida Nation.

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